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Record Type: Review   ID: 583

Ecstasy: In Secular and Religious Experiences

Laski, Marghanita

 Jeremy Tarcher has initiated a new series of reprints entitled "Library of Spiritual Classics." Ecstasy certainly belongs in this category. It is a report of an empirical survey Laski made of ecstatic experience, not wanting to prejudge such experiences as being either supernormal or morbid as other writers seemed to have done. After reading the literature on ecstasy, she devised a questionnaire and gave it to 63 acquaintances to obtain 60 who replied affirmatively to her first question, which was "Do you know a sensation of transcendent ecstasy"? She also searched published texts for accounts of ecstatic experience, dividing them into two groups: literary and religious. In the first part of the book she discusses her method of gathering and analyzing texts and sets forth her criteria for accepting an experience as ecstatic. In Part 2 she makes a detailed examination of her sample of experiences and classifies and describes their characteristics. In the third part she discusses the beliefs that tend to result from having such experiences. She presents her conclusions in the last part. In order to provide some idea of the range of the characteristics she discusses in part 2, I list the titles of each subsection: Intensity and withdrawal; The duration of ecstasies; Up, down, light, dark; Physical claims in general; Varieties and values; Adamic and time ecstasies; Knowledge; Contact; Ecstasy in children; Ecstasy and childbirth; Ecstasy and sexual love; Revelation ecstasies; Desolation; Nomenclature; Anti-triggers; Some common triggers; Some Desolation triggers; Some qualities of triggers; Language and ecstatic experience; Inducing ecstatic experiences; Mescalin and ecstasy; The distribution of ecstatic experience; Inspiration; Conversion; Primary overbelief (i): The seeds of utopia; Primary overbelief (ii): Communication and contact; Primary overbelief (iii): Ecstasy and contact; The formation of overbelief (i): The general process; The formation of overbelief (ii): The asking of the question; The formation of overbelief (iii): The collection of material; The formation of overbelief (iv): The fusing of the material; The formation of overbelief (v): The translation; The formation of overbelief (vi): Testing the answer; and Some critical judgements.
Publisher Information:Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1990, c1961. 544p. 2 graphs; Index: 534-544; 191 refs; 12 tables
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